Last year, West Palm Beach began its effort to install gender-neutral bathrooms in City Hall — and it became a reality this year.
The city finished placing 30 “gender neutral restroom” signs on single-occupancy restrooms throughout the City Hall complex. The city’s next goal is to designate 130 gender neutral signs on city-owned single-occupancy restrooms, and eventually require all West Palm Beach’s commercial buildings with single-occupancy restrooms to be designated as gender neutral.
This effort was sparked last year by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT rights.
“Transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and intersex people often face prejudice, discrimination and humiliation in their everyday lives," said Palm Beach County Human Rights Council President Rand Hoch. "They deserve the same dignity and respect as everyone else enjoys, in every area of their lives — including being able to use public restrooms in which they feel comfortable."
This initiative only affects single-occupancy restrooms. Multiple-occupancy restrooms at the City Hall complex will still have “men” and “women” labels.
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James said he is strongly on board with the idea.
"The segregation of single-occupancy restrooms by gender no longer makes sense," James said. "No person in West Palm Beach should be denied the ability to use a single-stall restroom just because of who they are."
In 2018, Orlando City Hall became the first government building in Florida to include an “all-user” restroom, according to the . Orlando City Hall’s restroom, however, is not single-occupancy.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council cited a 2015 study from thewhere 59 percent of transgender adults avoided using a public restroom that year because they were afraid of confrontation.
The study also found 12 percent of transgender people were verbally harassed when accessing a restroom — in addition to 1 percent being physically attacked.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is also pushing for single-occupancy restrooms throughout county-owned buildings to be designated as gender neutral. The council said their recommendation will be considered “later this year.”
"All gender restrooms will also ease the burden on people with disabilities who require the help of attendants, as well as parents with children of a different gender," James said. "All West Palm Beach residents should feel equally safe, supported, comfortable and included when they go out."